WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 8 (Part 1)

Alright, time for Week 8 of the Greatest of All Time Season to commence. Once again, we’re running single-game matchups through the WhatIfSports sim engine and going with the first result we get – UPSETS CAN AND WILL HAPPEN. Today, we’ve got a game between surprising 4-2 teams (the ’91 Oilers and ’02 Buccaneers), another game between old Super Bowl foes (the ’81 Bengals and ’89 49ers) and one more between underachieving New York teams (the ’86 Giants and ’68 Jets). Your bye teams for this week are: the ’12 Falcons, ’75 Steelers, ’98 Broncos, ’92 Cowboys, ’99 Rams, and  ’08 Cardinals. TO THE SIM ENGINE!

2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) 10, 1991 Houston Oilers (4-3) 7

The Buccaneer defense harassed Warren Moon into a 10-of-26 for 104 yards and two interception performance and their ten first quarter points turned out to be all that was needed to secure their fifth win of the season. Tampa Bay only gained 155 yards offensively all day, but Derrick Brooks’ interception of Moon on the second play of the game set the Bucs up with great field position and Brad Johnson subsequently hit Joe Jurevicius with a 12-yard touchdown pass. Martin Gramatica made a 28-yard field goal later in the period to provide the ultimately winning points. The Oilers finally scored early in the fourth quarter after a 53-yard Allen Pinkett run set Lorenzo White up for a three-yard touchdown plunge, but on their final three possessions of the game they couldn’t gain a single first down and actually lost a total of six yards.

1964 Cleveland Browns (1-6) 44, 1958 Baltimore Colts (2-5) 21

Jim Brown rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns on just 20 rushing attempts and the Browns became the final team in the league to win a game with a throttling of the home Colts. Brown scored from 1, 33, and 41 yards away and Paul Warfield added a 67 yard touchdown catch from Frank Ryan, as Cleveland used 24 second quarter points to pull away from Baltimore. Lenny Moore scored two rushing touchdowns for the Colts but only rushed for 25 yards total.

1979 San Diego Chargers (6-1) 44, 2006 Indianapolis Colts (2-5) 17

It’s apparently written in stone that Colts teams have to give up 44 points at home in Week 8, as the Chargers gained an incredible 384 yards on the ground and continued their ascendancy to the top of the AFC with a dominating win in Indianapolis. Clarence Williams rushed for 193 yards and two touchdowns on only 19 carries (he also added a receiving touchdown), Mike Thomas added 128 yards and two touchdowns of his own on only 11 attempts and the Chargers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions to jump out to a 27-0 lead in the second quarter. It would have been 28-0, but Rolf Benirschke missed the extra point attempt on the fourth touchdown. JEEZ WILL YOU EVER DO SOMETHING RIGHT, SAN DIEGO?

1986 New York Giants (2-6) 9, 1968 New York Jets (2-6) 7

This one turned out to be all about the field goal kickers: Raul Allegre made all three of his attempts for the Giants and Jim Turner missed both of his attempts – including a 42-yarder as time expired – for the Jets. Phil Simms was effective for the Giants, going 18-of-30 for 263 yards and no interceptions; Matt Snell ran for 107 yards on 16 carries for the Jets. Joe Namath led the Jets from their own 23-yard-line with 1:39 remaining to the Giants’ 25 with three seconds left over the course of ten plays, but unlike in Super Bowl V, Turner didn’t turn out to be the late-game hero.

1981 Cincinnati Bengals (4-3) 17, 1989 San Francisco 49ers (2-5-1) 14 (OT)

Dan Ross caught a game-tying 10-yard touchdown pass from Ken Anderson with 51 seconds left and the Bengals never let the 49ers see the ball in overtime, culminating a nine-play, 54-yard drive with a Jim Breech 38-yard field goal. The 49ers had scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to take a 14-7 lead and were in position to ice the game away with a little over two minutes remaining, but Joe Montana threw his third interception of the day at the Bengals 28 yard-line and Cincinnati took advantage of their new life, tying the game up on a seven-play, 62-yard drive. Anderson finished 24-of-38 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and an interception; Montana was a miserable 9-of-16 for 122 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

1985 Chicago Bears (6-2) 20, 1952 Detroit Lions (2-5) 3

Walter Payton rushed for 129 yards on 21 attempts and Jim McMahon threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns on 27 pass attempts, as the Bears swept the season series with the Lions and won their fifth game in a row. The game was close at the beginning of the fourth quarter when McMahon found Emery Moorehead with a 61-yard touchdown pass to give the Bears a comfortable 14-point lead. Bobby Layne was both the leading passer and rusher for Detroit – but he only mustered 89 yards on 23 pass attempts, so don’t be too impressed by that first accomplishment.

1991 Washington Redskins (5-2) 24, 1973 Minnesota Vikings (1-6) 3   

Three Washington touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter shifted a 3-3 nail-biter into a 24-3 blowout road victory for the Redskins. Over the course of just eight offensive plays, the Redskins marched 162 yards and scored on Mark Rypien touchdown passes to Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders and a 48-yard Ricky Ervins touchdown run. Rypien finished a dazzling 12-of-15 for 181 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Fran Tarkenton went 16-of-29 for 192 yards for Minnesota.

Tomorrow: The ’00 Titans and ’99 Jaguars both try to get their sixth wins of the season against ’05 Carolina and ’76 Oakland, respectively; the ’62 Packers march into Arrowhead to play the ’69 Chiefs; and the ’90 Bills try to get some revenge against the ’07 Patriots.

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